With the rise of the nation’s opioid crises, more opportunities for corruption and fraud have developed. An industry of patient brokering or “body brokering” has been born. Body brokers are paid kickbacks by rehab clinics in exchange for their recruiting of patients. Patients with good insurance are the most appealing recruits.
Kickbacks are also being paid between healthcare entities. For example, one common scheme involves drug rehab centers paying “halfway houses” kickbacks for them to send patients to the clinics. A typical payment totals about $500 weekly, but rehab billing to insurers can total hundreds of thousands of dollars. Just in Palm Beach County, Florida, 30 body brokers have been arrested and charged in the last 10 months. The county has established a “sober homes task force” to deal with the problem. In July, the DOJ announced the arrest of Eric Snyder, who allegedly billed insurers over $58M in fraudulent treatments and tests, and recruited addicts with drugs, strip club visits, and gift cards.
If any relevant patients have publicly-funded health insurance, such as Medicare, Medicaid or Tricare, body-brokering is very likely a violation of the False Claims Act, the Stark Law, or the Anti-kickback Statute. Whistleblowers reporting this conduct stand to receive rewards of up to 30% of the government’s recovery. Additionally, in California and Illinois, whistleblowers who report similar fraud against private insurers, also are eligible for monetary rewards.
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